Ever hear someone utter fighting words, and instinctively know that the equivalent of a world war was about to break out?
Last week, after waiting several days after the Newtown shooting, NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre held a "press conference" to critique the ramifications of the massacre where 27 deaths, including 20 children, resulted from bullets unleashed from a Bushmaster semiautomatic rifle.
There, he advocated placing armed police officers or trained security volunteers in every school in America as the real "meaningful" solution to preventing future school massacres: "Only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."
Those are fighting words, no doubt about it.
It used to be politicians and powerful lobbyists used to utter extreme statements like that to stake out the confines of an issue, and then work their way back toward the middle, compromising and working out their differences to achieve solutions for the common good.
Not these days.
When influential guys like LaPierre take a stand like wanting to make an armed fort out of every elementary school, there's no middle ground, there's no compromise, and there's no sane discussion of how to decrease violence in America.
It's a duel to the death, with semiautomatic rifles the choice weapon of carnage.
Further digging in, on Meet the Press, LaPierre argued that those on the other side of the gun control argument debase gun ownership and the basic 2nd Amendment rights to bear arms no matter what.
"I know there's a media machine that wants to blame guns every time something happens," LaPierre said.
To a certain extent, that's true. It's gun control extremists -- and also supercilious pundits in the mainstream media -- who also can't rationally discuss this issue, either.
An example: If you watched Morning Joe on MSNBC on Friday, you saw Joe Scarborough viciously attack Kansas Rep. Tim Huelskamp after he observed that gun control advocates like Morning Joe were pushing "a political agenda" in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre.
Feigning "personal insult," an agitated Scarborough went on the attack, accusing Huelskamp of impugning his integrity: "Do you dare come on my show and say I am using the slaughter of 20 little 6- and 7-year-old children; I'm using that for political purposes, Tim?"
Yep, again, there are fighting words again, which killed any credibility Morning Joe had established with a previous poignant statement earlier in the week where he announced his conversion to becoming a born-again gun control advocate.
"From this day forward, nothing can ever be the same again." Scarborough correctly argued right after the massacre.
Maybe it was drinking too much Morning Joe Starbucks coffee that morning or it's a displaced Florida good old boy sucking in too much Upper East Side Manhattan air, but sadly, like LaPierre at his press conference, Scarborough, too, showed it's really the same old rhetoric that's going to be defining this important conversation about limitations on semiautomatic weapons.
In a recent interview in The Jewish Daily Forward, the mother of one of the children who died at Sandy Hook, Veronique Pozner, defined a basic truth about the misuse of semiautomatic weapons in our society when she stated, "It takes nine months to create a human being... and it takes seconds for an AR-15 to take that away from the surface of this earth."
A horrible massacre of school children indeed demands a good conversation about semiautomatic weapons, and guns as well.
The truth is if you open any daily paper on any given day, there's always a story about someone being shot by another. There are just too many guns in the wrong hands. This gun violence needs to be rationally studied, discussed and addressed smartly strictly within criminal justice terms, not constitutional or political parameters.
It's time for our politicians and lobbyists in Washington, and the Morning Joes too, to take the next nine months to conceive new meaningful life in gun control dialogue, even sign a Grover Norquist-type pledge to display civility, a willingness to compromise principles for the greater good, to keep the discussion sane, meaningful, and productive when it comes to gun control.
While there are too many bullets flying the wrong way in America, it's true of fighting words too.